Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do. Statistics show that around 20% of new businesses fail within the first 2 years, 45% in the first 5 years, and 65% over the first 10 years. In fact, if your business makes it to 15+ years, you are part of the 25% that make it that far.
And those stats are from pre-Covid times. It is even more challenging to stay open during these crazy times. If you want your business to succeed you have to stand out from the rest and you have to work hard to continue to grow.
We have had successful businesses for several years. We have made mistakes along the way, but thankfully we have overcome them. Today we are sharing the top 8 mistakes entrepreneurs make when first starting out along with our advice on how to avoid those mistakes so you can be part of the 25% that makes it to 15+ years in business!
Mistake #1: Not vetting your business before you start. There are a lot of people who think that their product or service is unique and in demand, but they don’t bother to do their homework. They don’t check to see who their competitors are. It doesn’t mean you can’t start a business in an industry where there are competitors, but it is important to know what you will be up against. Do your research. Who is already in the space? Are you going into a crowded space with others who have been well established for decades? What are their products/services like? What makes you different? What are other people charging? Know your space and what you are up against.
Mistake #2: Not having enough savings before going off on your own. Having a safety net prepared is so important. We both had enough savings when we went off on our own to get by for 8-10 months. Most people have a full time job before starting their own business. Try to use that job to save up while starting your business on the side so you have something to turn to if it takes awhile to attract customers. It is stressful enough to start your own business, but not having savings to depend on can make it overwhelming. You don’t want to put yourself and your family into a tough situation because you can’t pay your bills.
Mistake #3: Taking on too much overhead. It’s simple math--the less money you spend, the more you will have. Be aware of what your business costs are, and try to keep them as low as possible. Are there ways you can reduce your expenses? Can you negotiate pricing on certain things you use? Do your research, maybe there is a product or service you are using that has a competitor that would cost you less.
You can watch the video of our full discussion below or just listen to the audio version as a podcast. If you want more content like this you can subscribe to our Youtube channel.
Mistake #4: Relying too much on yourself. It’s not always best to try to do everything on your own. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. You may be great at sales, but horrible at social media. Don’t be afraid to hire people to help. In fact in order to grow and scale your business you will eventually have to get people to help you. If your company is successful and growing there will come a day when you don’t have enough time to do everything on your own. But don’t wait for the work to become too much to get help, do it early. Find people who can handle the tasks you don’t like or you aren’t great at so you can focus on building the business up.
Mistake #5: Not spending enough on marketing and acquiring customers. In business customer acquisition is half the battle. And you can’t expect customers just to show up on their own. A big part of this is building your personal brand and having a social media presence. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it, but you do have to put some money into it. You also have to spend time on creating content and value for your prospective clients. That has worked really well for both of us. We create a ton of content that our clients and followers find extremely helpful. We have videos, articles, books, whitepapers, podcasts, etc…
Mistake #6: Burnout. Being an entrepreneur is hard and stressful. You have to wear so many different hats, there never seems to be enough hours in the day, and you are trying to balance work and life. But you can avoid burnout. You have to think of your own health and wellbeing as part of the job. You have to make time to take care of yourself. Carve out time for exercise, meditation, family time, your hobby, self care--anything that helps you to be at your best. It’s good to love your work and enjoy what you do, but if you find that you don’t have time to be with your family or enough time to get plenty of sleep or enough time to take care of your body, something is wrong.
Mistake #7: Not being patient. It can be easy to want success to come fast for your new business and it can be discouraging when it takes longer than you want it to. But it may take time to get to the point where you are making the money you want to make. It may take time to build up your customer base. But that is okay. It is normal. Don’t give up after one month, keep with it and be patient.
Mistake #8: Being afraid to take risks. Part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to step outside of your comfort zone and take some risks. If entrepreneurship was easy, everyone would do it. We are always thinking of new content, trying different platforms, coming up with new speeches, etc...We consistently take risks. You have to have courage and boldness. You can’t just stick with the old, familiar, comfortable things. In order to grow and thrive you have to be willing to step out and try something new.
This episode is sponsored by FedEx Office
FedExOffice serves small businesses at more than 2,100 store locations and through convenient and easy to use digital and mobile platforms. FedEx Office is committed to entrepreneurs and small business owners – like us – to support all our printing needs as well as packing, shipping and more. Think of FedEx Office as an extension of your team … your office … or your business.